Events & Festivals in the Vancouver Island Region
Whales, flowers, music, art, wine, birds, oysters, boats, beaches, the harvest, books, beer, salmon, Christmas lights, cars, chili, apples, fishing — in the Vancouver Island region, we celebrate everything we love! Concerts, theatre, music, dance, team sports, international competitions, and a raft of maritime events — it’s all here.
Many of our festivals are ideal for families — the Pacific Rim Whale Festival, Tidemark Children’s Festival, Nanaimo Marine Festival and World Championship Bathtub Races, National Aboriginal Day, Parksville Beach Festival, and Kidsfest.
Join us in our quaint seaside village. Come early, bring some friends and check out the vibrant murals and sculptures that perfectly visualize the local history and culture of this historic town. Take a stroll through town and visit the unique and eclectic shops, restaurants, and galleries.
Complete your theatre experience with a delightful meal in the Playbill Dining Room. Live music creates the perfect setting as you indulge in the impressive show-themed buffet. The Gallery Gift Shop features BC artisans, and is a wonderful place for art-lovers and shoppers to browse and take home a memorable piece of the west coast.
Turn your visit into a great escape! Book show tickets, lunch or dinner in the Playbill Dining Room and accommodations at the local hotel or at one of the charming bed and breakfasts.
Discover a great selection of new and second-hand titles in our six unique bookshops, all within easy walking distance of one another in the beautiful seaside town of Sidney BC. Spend some time exploring all that Sidney Booktown has to offer! Stay Longer. Read More.
Beacon Books – Don’t miss Beacon Books when you’re visiting Sidney! Stop by and browse through our thousands of secondhand books located in a 4,000 sq. ft. antique building – everything from bestseller paperback fiction to Arts & Crafts, Literature & Classics, Business & Self-Help, Cookbooks, Gardening. Check out our Authors’ Signed editions, Modern First editions and antiquarian books. The Children’s area features board books to young adult/teen fiction. In our Paperback Room you’ll find mystery, science fiction/fantasy, historical & romantic fiction – all at reasonable prices.
Galleon Books and Antiques – Galleon Books and Antiques is a beautifully set-up store with second-hand books, antiques and collectibles. This shop specializes in non-fiction subjects, including BC history, Exploration, First Nations, Military, and Art History. Antiquarian and collectible books can also be found. Galleon also offers a myriad of period antiques and collectibles. It is worth a visit to meet owners Rod and Brian and discuss their experiences in finding unusual items all over BC and western Canada.
Tanner’s Books – Tanner’s Books is a bookstore and more! It has grown into a large full-service bookstore with new releases, bestsellers, and new books in over 50 fiction and non-fiction categories. Come in and browse the largest newsstand on Vancouver Island – over 2000 magazines and 40 newspapers from Canada, The United States, and Great Britain. Enter the Travel and Nautical Room with over 500 maps and nautical charts, along with travel, and nautical reference and writing books. And don’t miss the games puzzles, calendars, souvenirs, greeting cards, and more!
The Children’s Bookshop – The Children’s Bookshop has a wide selection of new books for toddlers to young adults. We have books on everything from A to Z: airplanes, bears, cooking, drawing, Encyclopaedia Brown, fairies, growing up, Harry Potter, inuksuks, jokes, kites, little girls, mermaids, Nancy Drew, ordinary kids, pirates, quilting, rocks, sisters, totem poles, underwear, volcanoes, Waldo, x-rays, yearlings, and zambonis.
The Haunted Bookshop – The Haunted Bookshop is Vancouver Island’s oldest antiquarian bookshop. Named after Christopher Morley’s 1918 novel, the shop is ‘haunted by the ghosts of all great literature’.
Described in ‘Beautiful British Columbia’ magazine as ‘the sort of antiquarian bookstore bibliophiles dream about’, The Haunted actually caters to recreational readers wanting recent paperbacks & scholars seeking out-of-print material, as well as to collectors of the unusual & the rare. Its carefully chosen stock includes books on most subjects, unique ephemeral items, antique prints & postcards. Formal & informal appraisal services are also offered.
The Military & History Bookshop – The Military & History Bookshop has the largest selection of military books in Canada – is located across from Tanners on Fourth Street, and sells second-hand books. This unique store offers books on all things military, World War I and World War II, Canada at War, military biographies, early & modern war, naval and aviation war history. It also stocks History of the countries of the world (except Canada – see Beacon Books). Other subject specialties include Churchilliana, USA history and American Presidents, Railways, Royalty, and Military fiction.
Located off a picturesque country road winding through working farms and rolling hills, Unsworth Vineyards & Restaurant is whimsically nestled in the heart of Cowichan Valley’s wine country. Dedicated to crafting wines of distinction that reflect the exceptional soil and growing conditions of the region, Unsworth’s award-winning, family-owned and operated winery is complemented by their own restaurant – a restored early 1900s farmhouse serving natural local foods. A delicious wine and culinary destination, and a spectacular setting for intimate weddings and events – warm and welcoming with plenty of charm and heritage.
Tourism Mount Washington
Tourism Mount Washington will help you discover Mount Washington Accommodations and facilities. Explore all of the cultural attractions, activities, shopping and dining options within 45 minutes drive of the mountain. Whether looking for an active family getaway, a reunion, wedding location or company retreat, Mount Washington, Vancouver Island’s all-season alpine to surf destination treats visitors to the perfect combination of rugged west coast beauty and outdoor adventure. Winter highlights skiing and snowboarding in the mile high alpine.
Taste what Cowichan is all about! Our 17 wineries, most of which are within 30 minutes of each other, produce classic reds, whites and sparkling wines. Cowichan’s climate and setting provide one of the best locales for growing Pinot grapes, and the resulting wines are gaining great respect on the world stage. Fruit wines, blackberry port-style wines, ciders, vodkas and brandies round out the list of delectable libations unique to the Cowichan Region.
Cowichan’s pretty towns offer an eclectic mix of art galleries, boutique shops, piers, marinas and markets. More than 40 murals and 30 totem poles grace the streets of Chemainus and Duncan, making them two of the world’s largest outdoor art galleries, and a slow, relaxed lifestyle is evident in the rural countryside and seaside villages.
Fast becoming one of the top culinary destinations in Canada, Cowichan is home to organic farms, artisan food-producers and fisheries. Pick up any ‘foodie’ magazine these days and it usually has an article on chefs, culinary celebrities, authors and food enthusiasts who have chosen to live and work in the Cowichan region. The delicious results of their labors show they follow the mantra of fresh, local, seasonal and sustainable in all they create. Each community presents a host of distinctive dining experiences.
Some of the best mountain biking on the Island, golfing at six courses, world class river and lake fishing, kayaking, exceptional bird watching and whale watching make the Cowichan region a favourite with outdoor enthusiasts. At 614 ft long and 145 feet above the Koksilah River, the Kinsol Trestle must be experienced to be believed. It is one of the largest wooden trestles in the world and connects hundreds of kilometres of superb hiking and cycling trails.
The calm, protected waters of the east coast are a world-wide destination for sail and power boaters and Cowichan has more than a dozen marinas, plus small boat harbours and government docks. For those that want to enjoy the marine setting from land, many marinas feature waterside restaurants or pubs. For the more adventurous several dive sites, including a sunken Boeing 737, offer some of the best cold water diving in the world.
Shops and galleries featuring locally made clothing, jewellery, art, books and antiques dot the main urban centres. In Duncan you’ll find the authentic, internationally renowned Cowichan sweaters. Venture into the countryside for farmgate stands and artisan studios. Six outdoor farmers’ markets attract vendors of fresh produce, hand-made artisanal foods, and innumerable arts and crafts.
Cowichan is also a festival destination, showcasing hundreds of artists, live music and professional theatre virtually every day of the year.
Accommodation options range from well-appointed hotels & motels, hundreds of delightful B&B’s, RV Parks and camping to yurts, houseboats and floathomes. There is something for everyone and every budget.
Stretching from coast to coast, the Cowichan region lies between Victoria and Nanaimo. The Trans Canada Hwy connects the two, but a myriad of gorgeous country side roads get you where you’re going in a tranquil and scenic fashion. Stunning water, forest and country views are around every corner. Another option is the Pacific Marine Circle Route which allows motorists to explore wine country, unspoiled back country, the wild west coast, First Nations history, a range of villages, towns and cities as well as numerous fabulous parks all in one fantastic road trip!
Discover why one day in Cowichan just isn’t enough. Plan to stay and give yourself time to enjoy this amazingly varied region.
Parksville and Qualicum Beach
We revel in our uniqueness and the amount of fun that you can have in Parksville Qualicum Beach. Seeing goats on a roof, exploring underground caves, viewing world-class sand sculptures and visiting a research station shaped like a giant shell are just some of the quirky experiences you’ll be able to tell your friends about back home.
Our visitors yearn for a connection to the past and, in particular, to their past. You want to relive moments that have made you who you are and share new memories with your families. We can help in Parksville Qualicum Beach, because the activities we offer, and the spirit in which we offer them, is reminiscent of a better, purer time.
Chemainus is one of the most beloved places by visitors to Vancouver Island. An Arts & Cultural Destination that is famous for its well over 40 murals painted on the towns various walls. Golf, diving, shopping and exploring our natural surroundings in this seaside village.
Discover Comox Valley
Located on the eastern shores of Vancouver Island and in close proximity to an international airport and ferry, the Comox Valley is more than just a location, it’s a lifestyle. This year round destination is highlighted by interesting and delicious festivals including: Winter Jam (January), Dine Around (Feb.-Mar), BC Shellfish & Seafood Festival (June), Farm Cycle Tour (August) and Pacific Toast (November). The region, with its diversity of landscape provides the visitor with a multitude of outdoor activity and scenic opportunities. The unique location of the Comox Valley provides the opportunity to ski, golf and sail on the same day. If you enjoy local food and delicious culinary experiences, the area showcases farm hands on experiences, a yearly Farmer’s Market, several award winning wineries and celebrity chefs.
Quality Foods Canadian Open Sand Sculpting Competition and Exhibition
The Quality Foods Canadian Open Sand Sculpting Competition and Exhibition is a world-class event! Master Sand Sculptors travel from all corners of the globe to participate in our remarkable competition and exhibition in Parksville, BC, Canada. Sculptors have 24 hours over three days to create their masterpieces from just sand and water (and a lot of ingenuity!)
Competition July 13 – 14; Exhibition July 15 – August 18, 2013.
Cheers Cowichan offers guided tours and shuttle service in the greater Cowichan area. Leave your keys at home, gather some friends and come with us for the day! Choose from: winery tour, cider/spirit tour, farm/garden tour, Chemainus Theatre, Raptors, or other nearby destinations. Dining or picnic options at various restaurants/vineyards. We pick up at hotels, marinas, visitor centres, residences.Organize your own event:spa or shopping day for the gals, golf outings, pub crawl, restaurant hop. Private use of shuttle/driver available for special events, festivals, weddings. 18 passenger shuttle (smaller and private vehicles available). Cheers to you!
Mary Winspear Centre
The Mary Winspear Centre - the only state-of-the-art event, conference and theatre facility located at the gateway to Vancouver Island. As the ‘heart of the Saanich Peninsula community’, our centre provides a space for residents and visitors to enjoy quality events, theatre, art shows, conferences, programs and celebrations.
Duncan Business Improvement Area Society
Shopping in Downtown Duncan is fresh, fun and fabulous! Our jem of a town boasts hundreds of remarkable shops and services. The quality and diversity of what we have to offer surprises and delights visitors from near and far. Just one hour from Nanaimo or Victoria on Vancouver Island, with plenty of free 3-hour parking spots or parking for $1-2 dollars for extended visits.
Closest hotel to BC Ferries Departure Bay Terminal. Family owned and operated. Oceanview motel featuring spotlessly clean, cozy, kitchen suites and economical studios. Across from marinas, Newcastle Channel, Newcastle Island Provincial Park and Harbourside Walkway. Down duvets, free WIFI, parking, books, games and Direct Fair Trade coffee. Private BBQ area with picnic tables, BBQ and outdoor games. Bike, kayak and diver friendly with dedicated secure storage areas. TripAdvisor Green Leader Bronze award. 4.5 TripAdvisor bubbles. CAA 2 Diamonds. Ask about The Chart House, our neighbouring 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom vacation rental. Your hosts, Dave and Marlene.
Come discover the magic of Newcastle/Sayshutsan Island. Tours, kayak, paddle-board, bike rentals, hiking, beaches, café, camping, moorage, weddings & events. Traditional home of the Snuneymuxw First Nation this island jewel on the east coast of Vancouver Island lies just a short passenger ferry ride from Mafeo Suton Park in Nanaimo. From mining and fish salteries to resort and dance hall, Newcastle has a vast and varied history which has come full circle. The Snuneymuxw proudly operate the island offering a range of activities and interests, and welcome you to come explore and experience this magical island.
Blue Grouse Estate Winery
Come now and enjoy Blue Grouse’s classic wines, overlooking one of the Island’s oldest vineyards. And visit us again when our brand new tasting room opens in Spring of 2015.
Once the preferred habitat of Blue Grouse, the 45 acres of Blue Grouse Estate are tucked away on a sunny slope of Vancouver Island’s Cowichan Valley, which is believed to take its name from a First Nation's word meaning "the warm land". A fitting name, as the valley enjoys Canada’s warmest mean temperature. The terroir encompasses wind protection by evergreen trees, an all-Southern exposure, a combination of clay and gravelly soil, and the nurturing of pure air and spring water.